January 1, 2020

On Being a Competent Human

  • Be reliable. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you can’t, alert the person as soon as you realize this, and propose another solution.
  • Be friendly. Re-read emails to check the tone. If you’re asking someone for something, be appreciative, and ideally offer something in return (even if it’s an offer to return the favor at some point).
  • Have integrity. Own up willingly to mistakes. Take responsibility. Don’t try to cover up wrongdoings. Do the right thing even if you’ll get in trouble.
  • Model other humans. How might they react to what you’re saying? Are you assuming too much background knowledge or context?
  • Something that is underrated: literally closing your eyes and simulating different scenarios in your head. Do it for anything you’re anxious about: difficult conversations, interviews, etc. Also do it to help you make decisions.
  • Look for positive-sum interactions. If you can help someone out at a minor cost to you, do it.
  • Your brain is a sieve. If you want to remember something, write it down, and set a reminder to check it. (Related: Have an ops keystone’ habit; i.e. something you check everyday, without fail. Mine is currently Gmail and Asana.)
  • Learn some kind of partner dance, ideally Salsa. It’s good exercise, it’s sociable, you can dance better at parties and impress your friends. You can do it all over the world and it’s not weird to go on your own, so if you move somewhere new or are traveling alone you have an inbuilt fun activity that also let’s you meet new people.
  • Try Toastmasters.
  • Spend 10-30% of your time planning how you will spend the rest of your time.